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#NigeriaDecides 2023: Extend close of polls to 4pm to accommodate ALL voters, Yiaga Africa tells INEC

#NigeriaDecides 2023: Extend close of polls to 4pm to accommodate ALL voters, Yiaga Africa tells INEC
February 25
15:00 2023

Yiaga Africa, a civil society organisation (CSO), has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to extend the close of polls to 4 pm to accommodate polling units that experienced difficulties. 

At a press briefing in Abuja on Saturday, Hussaini Abdu, chair of Yiaga Africa Watching The Vote, said the organisation observed a late arrival of INEC officials and delayed commencement of votes.

Abdu said INEC should investigate the reasons for the late deployment of election materials and implement guidelines in cases where elections would hold the next day.

“Yiaga Africa’s Watching The Vote observation revealed critical challenges in the commencement of polls ranging from the late arrival of officials and delayed opening of polls to shortage of election materials in some polling units,” he said.

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“Our findings revealed INEC officials arrived at the polling unit by 7:30 am only in 27 percent of sampled polling units.

“By 9:30 am, only 41 percent of the sampled polling unit had commenced accreditation and voting across the country

“In the respective geopolitical zones, only 45 percent of the polling unit in the north-central zone; 42 percent in the north-east; 42 percent in the north-west; 10 percent in the south-east and 29 percent in the south-south zone, and 63 percent in the southwest zone had commenced accreditation and voting.”

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He said other challenges included difficulty with locating or accessing polling units, BVAS malfunction, deployment of party agents, shortage of ad-hoc staff, and shortfalls in election materials.

“In view of the late opening of polls, coupled with the difficulties in locating polling units Yiaga Africa calls on INEC to extend the time of voting to ensure that all eligible voters exercise their franchise,” Abdu said.

“It should issue clear communication on the extension of voting time to all polling officials and the public.

“INEC should investigate the reasons responsible for the late deployment of election materials and personnel, including the late activation of the registration area centres. Cases of breach of contractual obligations by the Road Transport Workers Union should be met with sanction.

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“INEC should implement its guidelines on cases where elections would hold the next day, where the commission reschedules elections to the following day. It should publish a comprehensive list of affected polling units on its online or offline platform very timely.

“Ensure timely response to issues raised at a polling unit such as malfunctioning BVAS and location of polling units.”

He further called on INEC officials to ensure strict compliance with the electoral act.

 

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